Saturday, May 8, 2004

Norwood likely to ask for tax increase



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - To help close a $3.5 million budget deficit, City Council appears ready to place a tax increase proposal before voters in August.

The only question is how large the proposal will be.

"Obviously, nobody likes to increase taxes," Norwood Mayor Tom Williams said. "If I could figure out another way, I'd do it in a minute."

Council will meet in committee at 7:30 p.m. Monday to recommend the size of the levy, then will vote on it Tuesday night. Without a major infusion of revenue, Norwood will run out of money by September, city officials say.

City officials have blamed the financial crisis on overspending in recent years and underestimation of the time it would take to launch new major business developments.

"You can't give out 5 and 6 and 7 percent salary increases," Williams said. "That's what's been done in the past, and that just won't work anymore."

The Rookwood Exchange, a proposed extension of Rookwood Commons, was one of the commercial projects Norwood has been counting on. But the project has been delayed because of legal action taken by property owners on the proposed site who don't want to give up their homes and businesses.

The vacant commercial property known as the Globe site, north of the Norwood Lateral and west of Montgomery Road, hasn't attracted any developers.

In recent weeks, Norwood officials have held meetings with residents in various parts of the city to discuss finances and the possibility of a levy.

"Voters will make the decision, and we have to live with it," Williams said. "I just hope they realize the ramifications of the decision they make."

Town meeting today There will be a special town meeting held by Norwood Council today to discuss how big of an operating levy to ask residents to vote on in August.

The meeting will be at 1 p.m. at the Norwood Community Center, 1810 Courtland Ave.

The committee will decide at a Monday night meeting what size levy to recommend to council. Council will vote on the levy proposal Tuesday night.

Norwood is facing a $3.5 million deficit. City officials say they have reduced expenses as much as possible.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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